Sunday, 20 May 2012

Hanningfield Reservoir

I had a good day out at Hanningfield reservoir yesterday. I arrived at the reserve at half 12 and Immediately herd the lovely song of many Blackcaps and too be honest for the first 20 mins, Blackcaps were the only good bird I saw apart from some Egyptian geese in the grazing meadow.
The Blue Shield Bug
The Island (Only just!)
The view from Lyster hide was empty of birds as usual, the only birds seen were some Common terns a good 500m away. A quick check of the pond near RAWL hide failed to produce any Migrant warblers but I did spot a Blue Shield Bug which I have never seen before. Unsurprisingly RAWL hide was also very empty and the island (Which is normally the best bit for birds) was almost flooded over so no birds were seen there.
The Red-crested Pochard from a good 300m away (Heavily Cropped)
Things started to get better at Point hide though. A brief scan revealed lots of close Gt crested Grebe, Gadwall and A very close Lesser Black-backed Gull which was good for photography. The on the island I saw a Male Red-crested Pochard, the bird of the Day and my only new bird for this year of the day. A few very close fly-bys of some Canada geese and some fighting coots ended a good stay in the hide.
The close Lesser Black-backed Gull
The way back to the visitor centre was much more eventful than the walk to the hides. Firstly tne blackcaps were back in full song and a few showed very well. But then just passed RAWL hide, I made my sighting of the day a beautiful Weasel and a little Wood mouse. Two very good mammals in one. I actually find Haningfield very good for Weasels. Near the Weasel was a small flock of long-tailed tits and I stayed to photograph them although I was soon distracted by a very close Willow Warbler in amongst the flock.
Three of the ever present Stock doves.
Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff?
Back at the visitor centre I was treated to the ever reliable Stock dove group(4 this time) and a Great spotted woodpecker showing well.

So all in all a good day, now off to revise for my Biology Exam on Monday.

Monday, 7 May 2012

A Birthday treat

As today was my Birthday and a Bank holiday, I decided to take a break form my revision for my exams so I could cycle down and see some good local birds. There were reports of some good waders near Little Baddow Bridge so off I went. A quick stop off at Baddow meads produced some whitethroats and Reed bunting but the floods had now gone and with them the chance of any waders.
So off I cycled to Little Baddow Bridge which proved to be a very difficult cycle. But it was worth it. When I arrived, the first bird I saw was a shelduck a good local bird. This looks promising, and it only got better. A scan of the water grasses produced some cracking birds and finally some waders. The first birds I saw were some Little Ringed plovers with some little chicks which was very nice to see as it was the first time I had seen LRP chicks and it confirmed that they were breeding in the area. I then saw a Common Sandpiper which is a moderately rare bird in Essex as they only really occur as passage migrants. But to my surprise there was not just one Common Sandpiper, 6 of them soon emerged.
And then the bird of the day appeared, a stunning Wood Sandpiper, only the 3rd one I have ever seen( This wasn't a self found, the bird was found yesterday).
Other good birds seen were some yellow wagtails, a few linnets, a few lapwings displaying, Sand Martin, House Martin, Swift, Swallow, two Red-legged Partridge and a few whitethroats. So all in all a very good day with 4 year listers seen: Yellow Wagtail, Little Ringed Plover(The first year I have seen this species before Ringed Plover), Common Sandpiper and Not forgetting the Wood sandpiper.
Sadly I didn't take any photos because of the rain and the birds were quite far away.

Saturday, 5 May 2012


Today I was meant to go to Hanningfield reservoir but at the last minute the Trip was called off.
So I decided to go to Baddow meads instead to see what I could find. When I arrived I noticed that the meads were flooded due to the heavy rains we have had down in Essex and I thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to see some unusual, rarely seen birds on my local patch, my main target being waders.
The trip started off well, with a few Northern Wheatear being seen around the bridge of the meads with one female 'greenland' Wheatear being seen amongst the flock. which was a new subspecies for me and wheatear was a year list bird.

A average shot of one of the many present Wheatears
I then started to scan the pools created by the flood with my scope. Sadly there seemed to be no waders but there were lots of Gulls to keep me company, five species in all: Great Black-backed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull. Few more minutes of scanning for waders produced no birds and I decided to move on .
Near the edge of the meads I noticed a lot of corvid activity with three species being noted: 1) The ever present Carrion Crows, 2) A flock of 5 Jackdaw  3) A superbly showing Jay which allowed me to get very close and allowed me to get some reasonable pictures.

An average photo of a jay that allowed me to get very close.
Other highlights from the meads were some Very close Swifts and Swallows a few well showing Pied wagtails and Reed Buntings and finally a wader, not on the meads but flying over were 2 Lapwings.

After the unsuccessful wader hunt, I decided to take a walk along the River Chelmer as I had herd that Kingfishers were showing well. Although my walk yielded no Kingfishers I did see a few good birds. I finally caught up with some Common Whitethroats, this time last year I had seen plenty of Common Whitethroats but this year there has been a noticeable decrease of Spring migrants in the area so it was good to see a Whitethroat. I just hope that it hasn't been a terrible winter for the spring migrants in Africa. Other god birds seen along the river were a Very close Blackcap, A hunting Kestrel that caught a vole and a House Martin.

Finally a Whitethroat!
So all in all the day was a good day although the promising meads failed to yield any Waders.